State Watch

New York City to adopt ranked-choice voting

New York City on Tuesday became the latest and largest city in the nation to adopt ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank their top five candidates based on preference.

New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved Ballot Question 1 by a roughly 73 percent to 17 percent margin, with just over 77 percent of precincts reporting.

The ballot’s passage will allow the city’s voters to begin using ranked-choice voting in local primary and special elections starting in 2021.

{mosads}Several other cities and states already use ranked-choice voting in various elections.

The method allows voters to rank their top five candidates in order of preference rather than picking just one contender. If a candidate wins an outright majority in first-place rankings, that person wins. However, if nobody wins a majority in the first round, the candidate in last place is eliminated and voters who ranked that candidate first have their votes shifted to the one they ranked second. The process goes on until a single candidate gets a majority of first-place votes.

Opponents say ranked-choice voting unnecessarily complicates elections, though proponents of the system have claimed that it forces candidates to appeal to a larger swath of voters and allows people wider latitude to consider every contender in a race.

“Ranked Choice Voting is an exciting step forward for democracy and increasing voter choice. Low voter turnout, negative campaigns, a lack of diversity among candidates, and expensive runoff elections with even lower participation rates have plagued municipal elections,” said Tousif Ahsan, civic engagement coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

“Ranked Choice Voting has been shown to successfully address these issues across the country and will also help ensure that candidates reach out to more voters since they can’t win with just a small plurality of votes.”


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